formerly Leslie Douglas Ashley
"Killer Transsexual" or Controversial Activist
To say the life of Leslie
Perez was colorful is doing the word a tremendous injustice...
it was more like a made-for-TV movie, with seedy overtones. I'll over-simplify:
In 1961 with a partner, Carolyn Lima, they dabbled in a bit of prostitution
and he shot a
man after a sexual encounter went bad, and then they burned his body.
They were caught on the run, and convicted and sentenced to death by
new legal team learned that information had been hid by the prosecution,
other things, psychiatric reports supporting an insantity plea. Four
there was a reprieve, leading to a new trial (media circus) and Leslie
sent to a mental institution....one apparently with loose security,
as he escaped...
big manhunt and headlines, FBI Ten Most Wanted List...after six months
captured, working as a clown in a carnival. He was again sentenced,
this time to
fifteen years, on a Texas prison farm, chopping cotton. He served five
and was released.
out of prison his thoughts were on having surgery to become a woman,
happened in 1981. Now a she (switching pronouns) Leslie gradually got
active in Houston
politics. And she became a controversial figure. Ray Hill, one who should
know, was quoted as
saying "Leslie is a lightning rod for hostility within the gay
community...a lot of people in the
community just can't tolerate her."
became quite active in local "gay politics," rising to the
position of Secretary of the Gay &
Lesbian Political Caucus in 1988 (the group would add the "BT"
to its name in 2005). Then
came the involvement, and essential take-over of the local
political action group ACT-UP, by
Leslie and her mother Sylvia Ayres. They registered DBA's for the group,
therefore being able to
prove they were in charge of the it, all done without knowledge of the
To sidestep that maneuvering a new group was formed, GUTS, Gay Urban
At any rate, ACT-UP got a lot of attention, and it was a group quite
good at doing that. In a broader
city-wide spectrum, she
ran twice for Democratic Party Chair, surprising most by coming in second,
in 1990 to Ken Bentsen Jr and in 1994 to David Minceberg, losing in
run-off elections. At least for the
first election there was criticism that she did so well by shrewdly
choosing a Hispanic last name,
with voters picking that with little knowledge of the race. Later that
decade, at the end of 1999
both Perez and her mother resigned from the Democratic Party, leaving
few to miss them.
The media trail faded away after that, and she died on July 31, 2005.
Her mother also died
that year, on January 29, 2005.
is a VERY rare recording, one it took me years to track down.
In prison on death row probably around 1963, Leslie made a
recording, a 45 rpm record, called "I Found Salvation in my Death
As you might imagine, very few copies were pressed. I wish
she had been talking about her case or her life, but alas, it's just
evangelical rants and nothing personal.
photo section from Robert Bentley's 1993 book
from TWT,the Montrose Voice, Houston Press and the Advocate
1/3/38 -- 7/31/05
I found no obituary, only SS records
Wait, there's a bit more....seems that there was a schlocky film made
"Burn Baby Burn, The Carolyn Lima Story"...supposedly from
her side of the story,
but it probably strayed from that quite a bit...
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